Microsoft Corp. has unveiled an online intellectual property (IP) portal called the Microsoft 4Afrika IP Hub, in an effort to create an IP protection culture in Africa.
The IP Hub will offer developers and independent software vendors the skills and tools necessary to develop, protect and monetize their innovations.
The portal will pilot in Kenya for two years, after which it will be handed over to the local government with similar pilots being rolled out to other African countries.
Most small businesses in Africa are relying on secrecy instead of using established copyright, trademark, trade name and patent programs to protect their valuable IP, making it vulnerable to exploitation.
At the same time, worthy innovations miss out on the opportunity to be realized for the African continent, stifling its technology advancement and development of the knowledge economy.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), only 383 resident patent applications were filed in Kenya through the Patent Cooperation Treaty procedure or with the national patent office between 2009 and 2012.
Similarly, only 683 resident patent applications were filed in Egypt; 608 in South Africa; and a mere 53 resident patent applications were filed by resident inventors in the Ivory Coast.
In contrast, approximately 268,000 resident patents were filed in the United States during the same period-Press Release